Security of lives and property is not rocket science. The issues at stake are straightforward and simple. If the five sub-sections in this article are addressed with a semblance of Compassion, Sincerity of Purpose, and Committed Patriotism by the current Leadership, the current Nigerian siege could be terminated within a short time.
Firstly, who are the culprits? We have a good idea of the perpetrators of these attacks and killings. Are these culprits Nigerians or Foreigners? Who are their collaborators in the Southwest? These guys are definitely operating with some Yorubas, if they have the capability to communicate and negotiate monetary ransoms, they can’t all be Fulani Herdsmen. Who owns the forests where these gruesome killings have taken place? Who owns these herds and who employs the herders? All these folks need to be identified.
Secondly, what are we dealing with? Terrorism, insurgency, banditry or all of the above? Sincerity of Purpose must be the watchword of this current government at the federal and state level. This should be classified as terrorism. All hands must be on deck to combat this insurgency which cannot be done singlehandedly by Nigeria. The network is beyond Nigeria. The proliferation of arms across the contiguous West African Nations is a herculean task, but surmountable with a unified front amongst these countries.
Thirdly, where is the criminal base station? Where do they operate? Nigeria or West Africa or beyond? We have ISWA,Al Qaeda in Maghreb etc. If majorly foreigners, we need to know who passes through our porous borders daily with immediate effect. The border gates need to be shut with immediate effect. Every terrorist cell has a Command Post (CP) and Operating Units. Are we claiming that these cells cannot be identified? Another challenge is the contest between the sincerity of purpose versus saboteurs in the system? This should be tackled head-on if we want any reprieve. Non-citizens without documentation need to be repatriated. Apprehended terrorists who have kidnapped, killed, or raped anyone should be sentenced to death.
Fourthly, when did this insurgency breakout commence? Government needs to identify the timing to make informed decisions and effect a thorough counter-insurgency strategy in a country where killings, political and otherwise, kidnapping, dismembering for rituals, armed robbery etc have always been a part of our country. Ghana witnessed a similar terrorist invasion, the President improvised a strategy that brought sanity back to the country. The government should establish a confidential timeline to eradicate this menace.
Last, why is Nigeria in this perilous predicament? President Buhari and his Deputy, VP Osinbajo should have a sincerely closed door meeting. If the President is not aware or indecisive, the vice president must be courageous enough to tell him the bitter truth. The alleged herdsmen criminal element has been emboldened to commit crimes with impunity because Buhari is allegedly sympathetic to their cause as a fulani man. That is the general perception. Perception is reality until proven otherwise in a nation that strives on rumours and daily social media fake news. The President needs to take the bull by the horns and launch an offensive attack on these criminals, no matter whose ox is gored.
Nigeria can be sanitised within a 30 – 60-day period. Do our leaders have the will to pursue that which is right? Is a question that begs for an answer.
This analysis is a security professional’s perspective. Nigeria’s challenges require a tripod approach of which security is first and most essential. A Nigerian policy which entails a consolidation of three strategies: security, economic and political approach is required for a holistic solution.
From an economic purview, Nigeria has millions of school age children roaming the streets (mostly North) with no education in 2019. In a few decades, the males would be in their 20s, 30s and 40s as supposed herders with no grazing land or routes. Many will end up as bandits, armed robbers, and kidnappers because the only business they grew up to know may not be available or sustainable. What is Nigeria’s current and future plan for these teeming youths? What is the government doing to encourage school attendance in the North? What is the policy on training these herdsmen on modern day cattle ranching which is season proof? What is the government doing to improve the standard of education, in secondary, technical and collegiate levels in the south?
We can’t do justice to the political perspective without underscoring the ethnic, tribe, and religious undertones which have become a phobia in the Nigerian psyche. The contributions of our bad politicians to the polity cannot be underestimated but a discussion for another day. They have unleashed an unprecedented level of mistrust between the leaders and the led over the years.
Major Okuwa, a retired major in the US Army writes, from Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State